Ashland's extended two-week spring break starting Monday has spurred the expansion of several programs to make sure kids have something to do.

Ashland's extended two-week spring break starting Monday has spurred the expansion of several programs to make sure kids have something to do.

Southern Oregon University, the YMCA and ScienceWorks are all hosting educational programs with optional extended hours for working parents looking for last-minute childcare.

The school district added a week to spring vacation this year to make up for a budget shortfall and was finalized a few weeks ago.

This is the first year SOU will offer their traditional summer program, Kids U, in the spring, said Carol Jensen, director of pre-college/youth programs.

"We were getting a lot of calls from parents who were concerned because Ashland schools were going to do a two-week spring break, and they needed to do something with their kids," she said. "We just felt like there was going to be a need in the community."

Kids ages 9 to 13 can take classes in cooking, Lego engineering, cartoon art and spy techniques for a fee of $99 per two-hour class, or $188 for two classes per day during the first week of spring break from March 16 to 20.

ScienceWorks is offering a week-long camp the next week, March 23 to 27, for kids in grades 1 through 6. Younger children can participate in science adventure camp, where they will build wind-powered cars, kites and bridges and learn about plants and animals. Older campers can attend "building challenges," where they construct roller coasters, robots and more.

Camps last from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with optional childcare until 4:30 p.m. Total cost for museum members is $175 and $200 for nonmembers. Aftercare is an additional $50 for the week.

The museum will also offer extended hours and special programs such as ScienceLive! and StarLab shows, a hands-on circuit class and Think Small! Nanotech Days.

The Ashland YMCA is offering several camps for both weeks, including some brand-new programs such as a baseball and softball clinic and a camp that mixes gymnastics and dodgeball, Youth and Family Program Director Teresa Fiuren said.

"We just want to be there to meet the needs in our community," she said. "People are really actually thrilled to have something in that first week especially."

Programs for Y members run from $22 per day for day camp for elementary school children to $80 for a leaders-in-training camp that teaches middle school students childcare and leadership skills. Campers can also choose from a soccer skills workshop, a world of sports camp and a combination gymnastics and swimming program. There are also a few one-day-only classes, such as the handspring clinic and SuperSitters class.

Extended childcare for campers is available until 6 p.m. for $6 per day.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or jfrench@dailytidings.com.